The 2015 World’s Original Marmalade Awards at Dalemain House

Pupils from Threlkeld School in Cumbria picked up the Gold award in the Childrens Marmalade Category

Pupils from Threlkeld School in Cumbria picked up the Gold award in the Childrens Marmalade Category (Homemade category award). Photographed here with Karen Jankel, daughter of Paddington Bear author Michael Bond - Credit: Archant

There were plenty of people in a jam at The World’s Original Marmalade Awards and Festival at Dalemain House. Emma Mayoh reports

Homemade competition marmalades

Homemade competition marmalades - Credit: Archant

Tara Booth has a secret ingredient for her marmalade. It’s not the finest Seville oranges – although that most certainly helps – it is the help of six and seven-year-old children. The 42-year-old, who lives just outside Keswick, had already won awards for her marmalade in previous years at The World’s Original Marmalade Awards. But it was creating a Seville orange marmalade with pupils from Threlkeld Primary School, including one of her sons, Ben, that earned a gold in the Children’s Award category at the prestigious event at Dalemain House, near Penrith.

The children used a recipe given to Tara from friend, Jean Norris. There are now plans to sell pots of the award-winning marmalade at the school summer fair.

Tara, who has also cooked marmalade with ten-year-old son Tom and his class, said: ‘We did really well cooking with the older children, getting a silver award. But we thought we’d try with some of the younger children.

‘They were so happy to have won and some of them actually got to go to the event and it was so exciting. One of the best parts was when they were first told at school and they were all so happy and thanking me for helping them. They have done so well. I’ve won silvers before on my own but it goes to show the children must be my secret ingredient.’

The awards and accompanying festival were founded in 2006 by Jane Hasell-McCosh as a way to preserve, grow and widen this British custom. The event now inspires people internationally to get involved with entries from across the globe. This year there were hundreds of entries received at the Georgian stately home and thousands of people came to experience the two day event which included marmalade tasting, cookery demonstrations, lectures, musical performances and a Marmalade Run through the country estate. There was also a special appearance by Paddington Bear.

Jane said: ‘Once again I am astounded by the number of entries we have received at Dalemain and am delighted that participants have been brave enough to enter the new 2015 categories; resulting in a record number of entries for our 10th Anniversary. This year we’ve received jars from as far afield as Australia, Canada, the Bahamas, Japan and Singapore; demonstrating that the appeal of marmalade continues to cross international boundaries.

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‘The aim of the awards has always been to celebrate and save the Seville orange by encouraging people to eat, make and cook with marmalade and from the number of entries received it seems that we are still managing to achieve that goal which is so exciting. I’m already looking forward to seeing what ingredients people come up with next year.’

This year saw the most exotic ingredients added to the preserve including velvety honey, punchy vodka, bitter coffee, rich amontillado and even tiny sprinkles of gold. But keeping it simple was the best for Jane Boylan who won gold for her Seville orange marmalade and won the overall top prize in her category, beating hundreds of other entrants.

The retired pharmacist, from Penrith, has a lot to thank her mother for. For had she not bought Seville oranges by mistake on a trip to the shops, her daughter would never have discovered her home baking skills. Determined not to throw away the oranges, Jane scoured her cookery books for a Delia recipe. Not only did it taste good, she was hooked.

It was two years ago she decided to enter her marmalade into the awards. The first time her Seville orange marmalade earned her the top spot in the novice category, in the second year she received a bronze award for her ginger marmalade, silver for her Seville orange marmalade and a gold for her whisky marmalade. But it was receiving this year’s accolade that has been a high point.

She said: ‘I’ve always wanted to get that full score of 20 out of 20. This year I did it. I make marmalade as a hobby; it’s not something I do as a profession. I’m just so happy. I’m already thinking of different flavours for next year.

‘I can’t quite believe it. I found out a few days before the festival that I had won but I couldn’t tell anyone. I was walking around, grinning from ear-to-ear. It is such a thrill.’

Another local winner was former minister of state for crime prevention and anti-social behaviour reduction, Lord Henley, whose home is Scaleby Hall in Carlisle. His Peers and Political Marmalade was awarded gold.

The top accolades of the competition were won by Scottish makers. Joint winner Catie Gladstone’s rich and smooth Hamilton Honey Marmalade and Gardening Leave Army Veteran’s Charity Marmalade were both awarded double golds. Both winners will be offered the opportunity to have their marmalades stocked in Fortnum & Mason.